10 November 2018 until 17 February 2019
Birgit Jürgenssen (1949-2003) was among Austria’s avantgarde in the 1970s, alongside Valie Export and Maria Lassnig. While alluding to art-historical traditions like Surrealism, she unobtrusively developed an independent oeuvre that included not only a large stock of drawings, but also sculptures, experimental objects, videos and, above all, photographs. The Kunsthalle Tübingen is showing the first comprehensive presentation of this artist’s work in Germany under the heading “Ich bin. / I am.”
The female body is the lynchpin of Birgit Jürgenssen’s work. Not only is the body the subject of the realistic-style drawings with which she portrayed her lifeworld with considerable self-irony, it is also the agency of first experiences which she explores as a psychological-mental and emotional resonance chamber. In more than 1000 drawings she captured with seismographic sensitivity what occurs before our conceptual and thus conscious grasp. mehr
She reflected on and deconstructed human relationships, sexuality, socially-determined notions of beauty and gender relations with a subversive humour as if they were deeper layers of her own identity.
In keeping with the social turmoil in the 1970s she responded perceptively and critically to an increasingly industrialised and thus “demystified” environment and, guided by a sensual-instinctive sensitivity, marked out the affinity between man, plant and animal. In the tradition of the Surrealists, she transformed the human body, the animal and plants into hybrids in dream-like scenarios. By equating the human body with the vascular system of leaves, she productively adapted old concepts of the micro-macro-cosmos to the present day. Her drawings, collages and photomontages are characterised by a vigorous fantasy in the face of nature and testify to an integral awareness that we exist in an invisible interaction with the world around us.
The wide-ranging oeuvre of Birgit Jürgenssen is interesting not just as a collective contemporary testimony that reflects the sense of life and the zeitgeist from the 1970s to 1980s and 1990s. Even today, when we are experiencing an increasing levelling of everyday perception due to digitization, her body-related approach takes on a whole new topicality. Her work is rooted in the realm of the intimate and thus stand not least for an authentic self-directed life and, ultimately, also for the self-determined and emancipatory impetus of art.
The retrospective exhibition is being organised in close cooperation with the Estate Birgit Jürgenssen / Vienna.
Catalogue to be published on the occasion of the exhibition.
Dr. Nicole Fritz, Natascha Burger (Estate Birgit Jürgenssen)
Estate Birgit Jürgenssen, Vienna
Sammlung Verbund, Vienna